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Melbourne's trains could stop for up to 48 hours after thousands of train drivers, station workers and signal operators have overwhelmingly voted to take industrial action in a fight for better pay.
Within the next 30 days, 3000 workers running Melbourne's city rail network could stop checking myki tickets, refuse to wear their uniforms, or walk off the job.
Ninety-nine per cent of rail workers with the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) voted in favour of industrial action on Monday afternoon.
The ballot follows a break down in negotiations between Metro Trains and the RTBU over a four-year wage deal, with talks now entering their fifth month.
RTBU State Secretary Luba Grigorovitch is threatening strike action.CREDITAUL JEFFERS
The operator wants a 2 per cent annual wage increase, whereas the RTBU is demanding a 6 per cent pay rise, arguing that increasing pressure on the public transport network is putting a strain on workers. The existing wage deal has now expired.
The union's branch secretary Luba Grigorovitch said she wants to overhaul workers' salaries across the network to ensure they reflect changes in working conditions.
"With 99 percent of members who voted endorsing industrial action it is clear members are frustrated by Metro’s tactics and aggressive attacks on hard won conditions," Ms Grigorovitch said.
"Our members will be making efforts to minimise the impact on the travelling public, sharpening the focus on the company where it hurts most."
As part of the action, workers may also refuse to alter timetables, work overtime, open barriers and issue infringement notices.
It is likely the union will prioritise the least disruptive course of action over a 24 or 48-hour strike action. If workers do walk out, they will most likely do so outside peak hour.
Union delegates will meet sometime this week to decide exactly what kind of action will be taken and when.
In addition to the pay increase, Metro and the union disagree about how part-time workers should be paid for working overtime.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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